Decommissioning Projects - France
(last updated 16 Nov 2014)
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> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)
French uranium activist network complains about deficiencies with cleanup of France's former uranium mine sites
At its meeting in Auriac (Corrèze) on May 18-20, 2013, the French activist network Collectif "Mines d'Uranium" pointed at several problems encountered with the cleanup of former uranium mine sites in France. The network looked in particular at the problem posed by the dispersion of waste rock around the mine sites, for use in the construction of roads, platforms, farmyards, and even in the base of buildings and in residential walls. While Areva was ordered in 2009 to elaborate a survey of all sites where waste rock was reused, four years have passed in the meantime and there is still no result. The network further complains about a lack of transparency and a lack of reliability of the works undertaken.
> Download Collectif Mines d'Uranium release June 6, 2013 (PDF - in French)
French and Nigerien activists create anti-uranium network
Two decades after the cessation of the national anti-uranium network "Réseau Uranium", activists from various sites in France and from Niger have created the Collectif "Mines d'Uranium". The new network is to look into the environmental impacts of former uranium mining in France and current uranium mining in Niger.
> Download Communiqué de presse 15 Oct. 2012 (PDF - in French)
> Download Déclaration commune (PDF - in French)
Environment minister and Nuclear Safety Authority demand prefects to take care of old uranium mines
> View Note d'information 30 juillet 2009 (ASN - in French)
> Download circulaire 2009-132 du 22 juillet 2009 (ASN - in French)
Areva trying to block TV documentary on residual contamination left around former uranium mine sites in France
Areva, once again, spares no efforts to prove that it rightly received the 2008 Public Eye Award as one of "the world's most irresponsible companies":
On Feb. 11, 2009, public service TV chain France 3 plans to air a programme on the residual contamination found at former uranium mine sites all over France. The broadcast titled "Uranium : le scandale de la France contaminée" (Uranium: the scandal of contaminated France) is to be aired in the monthly programme Pièces à conviction (Incriminating evidence). According to the programme's investigators, 300 million tonnes of radioactive waste have been left at 210 former uranium mining sites in France without any protective measures nor surveillance.
Areva announced on Jan. 29, 2009, to call the regulatory authority Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) to prevent the airing of the programme.
(AFP/Le Républicain Lorrain Jan. 30, 2009)
> View video: Uranium : le scandale de la France contaminée , France 3, Pièces à Conviction n°72, 11 février 2009 (110 min. - in French)
> View background documents by CRIIRAD (mostly in French)
> View Areva's comments on the TV programme (in French)
French Radiation Protection Authority issues revised national inventory of former uranium mine sites
In September 2007, the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN ) issued a revised release of MIMAUSA (Mémoire et Impact des Mines d'urAniUm: Synthèse et Archives).
> View Mines d'uranium - Le programme Mimausa
> Download Inventaire national des sites miniers d’uranium, Version 2 - Septembre 2007 (7.6MB PDF - in French)
French Radiation Protection Authority issues first national inventory of former uranium mine sites
At the request of the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEDD ) , the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN ) has launched the program MIMAUSA (Mémoire et Impact des Mines d'urAniUm: Synthèse et Archives).
In cooperation with the mining company COGEMA, IRSN has compiled a national inventory of former uranium mine sites in France, comprising not only the major mine and mill sites, but also many minor exploration sites, totalling 185 sites across the country.
> See also: Mines d'uranium (DRIRE Limousin)
Inventory of dispersion and usage of uranium mine waste in Limousin area released
On July 1, 2014, the Direction Régionale de l'Environnement, de l'Aménagement et du Logement du Limousin (DREAL) authority has released the results of a survey performed by Areva on the dispersion and usage of waste rock originating from uranium mining in the Limousin area.
> Access inventory by community (DREAL Limousin - in French)
Fire at Areva's mining museum in Bessines
The fire that broke out on the night of April 3 to 4 at Areva's mining museum at Bessines was willfully started.
The Prosecutor of the Republic of Limoges confirmed an investigation had been opened for willful damage of property by fire.
The fire that started in waste bins outside the establishment had in particular damaged the museum restaurant.
(Le Populaire Apr. 7, 2014)
Areva started legal proceedings upon revelations that the fire was willfully started.
(Le Populaire Apr. 8, 2014)
Family evacuated from Limousin area home built with uranium mill tailings backfill and used for childcare
A family of Haute-Vienne was relocated after the discovery of high doses of radon, a radioactive gas, at its home. The occupants of this house have had between 2000 and 2014, a home-care activity that concerns about twenty children from 16 families who have been identified and will be contacted.
The dwelling in question was built in the 1960s at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, north of Limoges, where soils are rich in uranium and have been the subject of mining for decades.
The measurements were made as part of the survey program of sites where uranium mine waste rock was reused, commissioned by Areva.
In addition to waste rock, uranium mill tailings were used "to fill in this house and are causing the measured radon concentrations", the Regional Health Agency (ARS) says, and "the presence of such residues outside of mining sites and permitted disposal sites is quite abnormal and contrary to the regulations."
(Le Monde Mar. 27, 2014)
Monitoring performed in the home by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) has found radon concentrations in the range from 8,500 to 18,700 Bq/m3.
> View IRSN release June 2, 2014 with links to further reports (in French)
Areva announced on June 16, 2014, that the building will be pulled down.
(Le Figaro June 17, 2014)
Pluralist expert group releases complementary report on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
On Nov. 4, 2013, the pluralist expert group (Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste - GEP ) in charge of assessing the environmental situation at the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area released its second and last report.
> View GEP release Nov. 4, 2013
> Download GEP report , Nov. 4, 2013 (4MB PDF - in French)
Areva wins defamatory Pinocchio Award for opening museum glorifying former uranium mining in Limousin area
In the category "Greener than green" *), Areva easily wins the Pinocchio Award with 59 % of the votes. It must be said that the nuclear multinational dared to imagine the unimaginable: creating "Urêka ", a museum dedicated to the glory of uranium mines in the French region of Limousin, on the area of former mine sites that left heavy environmental and sanitary consequences. "Come and discover the adventure of uranium", says Areva, without any issue regarding the dramatic social and environmental impacts that these uranium extraction mines keep having all over the world, especially in Niger and maybe soon on the land of the Inuits. (Prix Pinocchio Nov. 19, 2013)
More than 41,000 internet users voted in the pub public voting process launched by the NGO Les Amis de la Terre - Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with Peuples Solidaires - ActionAid France and the Centre of Research and Information for Development (CRID).
*) "Greener than green": awarded to the company which has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities.
The two other nominees were BNP Paribas and Air France.
Areva plans to dump more contaminated soil on top of tailings deposit in former Bellezane open pit
> Download related documents (DREAL - in French)
(Réunion du 01/10/2013 - dossier de demande dautorisation dexploiter Bellezane 2)
The proposal is opposed by the NGO Sources et Rivières du Limousin (SRL).
> Download SRL statement Feb. 1, 2013 (PDF - in French)
Public inquiry results in favourable opinion for Areva's plan to dump more contaminated soil on top of tailings deposit in former Bellezane open pit:
Areva has obtained a favourable opinion of the arbitrator of the public inquiry (commissaire-enquêteur) on its project to dump 200,000 cubic metres of radioactive wastes in its former Bellezane open pit uranium mine.
(Le Populaire du Centre Nov. 26, 2013)
> Download: Rapport d'Enquête (in French)
Areva opens interactive mining museum at site of former uranium mine and mill in Bessines
On July 12, 2013, Areva opened the Urêka mining museum at Bessines.
> See also: Anti-nuclear sabotage claimed to have caused derailment of locomotive on siding to Areva's depleted uranium storage facility at Bessines
Hole opens in the ground above tunnels of former La Vedrenne uranium mine
On Oct. 12, 2012, a ground failure was detected above tunnels of the former La Vedrenne uranium mine. The failure occured after heavy rain in a vacant lot between two residential areas of the community of Egletons (Corrèze).
> Download: La Vedrenne - Rapport d'incident suite à un affaissement de terrain survenu le 12/10/2012 , Areva, Décembre 2012 (4.4MB PDF - DREAL, in French)
Areva presents survey of dispersed waste rock in part of former Limousin uranium mining area
At the July 12, 2012, meeting of the local information and monitoring commission (Commission Locale d'information et de surveillance - CLIS) in charge of the former uranium mining sites in the Haute-Vienne departement, Areva presented the results of a survey of the dipersed uranium mine waste rock in the area. Areva identified 11 locations whith excess annual doses in the 0.3 - 0.6 mSv/a range, and 7 locations above 0.6 mSv/a.
The doses were not calculated for continuous exposure, but for varying occupancy periods (400 - 2000 hours per year), according to site usage categories selected on the basis of current site usage. The dose calculations thus do not take into account any future change of site usage.
Three of the locations in the highest category are located in the town of Bessines-sur-Gartempe and shall be cleaned up first.
> View/download related documents (DREAL - in French)
Radioactive material from former uranium mines found dispersed in Limousin area
Members of the group l'Association de défense de l'environnement de la Xaintrie (ADEX) have identified rocks close to the "quality of pure uranium ore" at the surface of an embankment dam at Saint-Privat (Corrèze). The rocks apparently came with waste rock from the former uranium mines in the Corrèze department (Limousin area). Such waste rock material was used for road construction and level grading on public and private grounds within a radius of 30 km of the mines. The radioactive material will now be removed by Areva.
Until 1984, no accounts were kept on the whereabouts of the waste rock material from the uranium mines.
(Le Populaire July 19, 2011)
Suit filed against Areva for inappropriate disposal of decommissioning wastes in former Limousin uranium mining area
The NGO Sources et Rivières du Limousin has filed suit against Areva for not having properly disposed of approx. 600 cubic metres of radioactive residues left from the cleanup performed in 2010 at the Rode pond in the Limousin area.
> View Sources et Rivières du Limousin release May 23, 2011 (in French)
On June 1, 2011, the prefecture of the Haute-Vienne departement ordered Areva to remove the radioactive residues and to ensure their safe long-term disposal.
(Le Figaro June 7, 2011)
European Commission experts check efficacy of uranium mine reclamation in Limousin area
On Sep. 14-16, 2010, a team of three experts of the European Commission visited the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area. The goal of the mission was to verify the sound application of article 35 *) of the Euratom treaty to the former uranium mine sites. To this end, the experts checked the measures taken to assure the control and surveillance of the former mining sites, as well as the radiation levels in the surroundings of these sites.
The report of the Commission will be released during the course of the year 2011.
(ASN Oct. 28, 2010)
*) Article 35
Each Member State shall establish the facilities necessary to carry out continuous monitoring of the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil and to ensure compliance with the basic standards.
The Commission shall have the right of access to such facilities; it may verify their operation and
Pluralist expert group releases final report on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
On Sep. 17, 2010, the pluralist expert group (Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste - GEP ) in charge of assessing the environmental situation at the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area released its final report.
The GEP sets out six main areas of improvements, within
which the GEP makes 15 major recommendations
addressed to the public authorities, the owner and all of the
stakeholders concerned. These recommendations aim to:
> Download News Release Sep. 17, 2010 (PDF - in French)
- to renovate and clarify the institutional and legal
framework for the management of the former mining
- to promote efforts directed at the improvement of
knowledge on the sites; to continue the studies and
research and to broaden their scope,
- to reinforce the relevance of impact evaluations, in
particular extending them to the ecosystems; to
replace public exposure in the public health risks,
- to develop surveillance systems at the sites and the
zones potentially located under their influence,
- to extend the effort of refitting in order to put in
place, as of today, systems that are as robust as
possible for the long term, where the risks justify it,
- to continue the implementation of the principles of
information and participation to make them the drivers
of a truly sustainable management system for the sites.
> Download Executive Summary (PDF - in English)
> Download Final GEP Report (in French)
Inspector calls for improvement of water treatment at Bellezane tailings site
At the occasion of a site visit on Feb. 24, 2010, the DREAL inspector found that the water treatment plant of Bellezane (former mine, now tailings deposit) shows a poor efficiency. The treated water released to the Petites-Magnelles creek shows uranium concentrations in the order of 300 micrograms per litre, and the creek provides only little dilution. The standard established by IRSN for the natural environment is 5 micrograms per litre, however.
The inspector demands Areva to investigate the water treatment process and explain the poor performance of the plant and to propose changes to improve the quality of the released water.
(Rapport d'inspection du site minier uranifère de Bellezane, le 24 février 2010, Direction Régionale de l'Environnement, de l'Aménagement et du Logement du Limousin - DREAL)
New NGO to monitor radiation at former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area
A new NGO Sous nos pieds (Under our feet) plans to perform radiation surveys at the 70 former uranium mine sites, 2 uranium mill sites, and 6 waste disposal sites in the Limousin area. The group believes the official monitoring has been inadequate and incomplete.
(France 3, Dec. 9, 2009)
Pluralist expert group releases third report on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
On July 22, 2009, the pluralist expert group (Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste - GEP ) in charge of assessing the environmental situation at the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area released its third report.
> Download Troisième rapport d'étape du Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste sur les sites miniers d'uranium du Limousin, janvier-décembre 2008 (6.4MB, GEP - in French)
Pluralist expert group releases second report on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
On Jan. 16, 2008, the pluralist expert group (Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste - GEP ) in charge of assessing the environmental situation at the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area released its second report.
> Download Rapport d'étape du Groupe d'expertise pluraliste sur les sites miniers d'uranium du Limousin, Janvier - Juin 2007 (2.9MB PDF, DRIRE Limousin - in French) · alternate source (GEP)
In addition, the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) released a detailed report on the environmental impacts in the catchment areas.
> Download Expertise globale du bilan décennal environnemental d'AREVA NC, 2ème partie: impact environnemental à l'échelle des bassins versants et évaluation de la surveillance, DEI/SARG/2007-042 , IRSN, Décembre 2007, 390 p. (8.7MB PDF - in French) · alternate source (IRSN)
Unannounced sampling of effluents finds no exceeding of standards
From Nov. 21 to 24, 2006, DRIRE performed unannounced sampling of effluents at Areva's various decommissioned uranium mining sites in the Limousin area. None of the samples surpassed the applicable standards.
Elevated gamma radiation was identified in the valley of the "ruisseau des Petites Magnelles" creek, caused from sediments and contaminated soil found downstream from the Bellezane site.
> View DRIRE announcement, March 2007 (in French)
> Download Rapport Contrôles inopinés AREVA - Division Minière de La Crouzille, Novembre 2006 (3.9M PDF - in French)
Pluralist expert group releases first report on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
On Feb. 6, 2007, the pluralist expert group (Groupe d'Expertise Pluraliste - GEP) in charge of assessing the environmental situation at the former uranium mine sites in the Limousin area released its first report. The group had been appointed by the ministries of the Environment, Health and Industry on June 28, 2006.
In its first report, the group mainly looks at the Bellezane uranium mill tailings deposit. The GEP recommends to develop a better understanding of the site hydraulics, to search for possible diffuse sources of contamination, and to perform a quantitative assessment of the efficiency of the tailings cover, among others.
> View Diffusion du premier rapport du groupe d'expertise pluraliste sur les anciennes mines d'uranium en Limousin (DRIRE Limousin - in French) · alternate source (GEP)
In addition, the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) released a detailed report on the Bellezane uranium mill tailings deposit and its environmental impacts.
> Download Expertise globale du bilan décennal environnemental dAREVA NC 1ère partie : stockage de Bellezane et impact environnemental à léchelle du bassin versant du Ritord, DEI/2007-01 , IRSN, Janvier 2007, 179 p. (4.9MB PDF - in French) · alternate source (IRSN)
DRIRE considers necessity of additional impermeable covers on uranium mill tailings deposits in Limousin area
DRIRE Limousin (Direction Régionale de l'Industrie de la Recherche et de
l'Environnement) finds that a hydrogeoligical report presented by Areva/Cogéma does answer the authority's questions regarding the water balance at the decommissioned uranium mine and mill sites in the Limousin area. DRIRE rather suspects that the permeability of the covers on top of the various uranium mill tailings deposits in the area is too high, and that the construction of additional impermeable covers is necessary. The installation of such impermeable covers had already been demanded in Cogéma's license, unless some study would prove that they weren't necessary. The study now presented by Cogéma is not seen as such proof by DRIRE Limousin.
> Download: AREVA COGEMA, MONTMASSACROT, SITE INDUSTRIEL DE BESSINES, LE FRAISSE, FANAY-AUGERES, MARGNAC-PENY, BELLEZANE, Expertise hydrogéologique, Rapport , Burgéap, 30 Octobre 2006 (22M PDF - in French)
> View: Note de la DRIRE suite à l'expertise : Une expertise à compléter sur létanchéité des stockages de Bellezane, Montmassacrot et SIB (in French)
> See also: Cogéma en Limousin (DRIRE Limousin - in French)
French Geological Survey calls for improvements in environmental monitoring of decommissioned uranium mine sites in Limousin area
In reply to Cogéma's ten-year survey of decommissioning of uranium mines in the Limousin area, the French Geological Survey BRGM calls for improvements in the environmental monitoring performed at several sites:
- a more detailed analysis of the acid generating potential at the waste rock piles and of possibly resulting spread of contaminants into the environment, and the construction of better measures to contain the contaminants in the long term,
- an analysis of the radon retention properties of the cover layers applied to the uranium mill tailings deposits; cover design was based on experience with some test plots, but no quality assurance measures were taken during cover construction, and no assessment of cover performance was done after placement.
> Download: Bessines-sur-Gartempe (87), Tierce-expertise du bilan de fonctionnement décennal des installations COGEMA, Rapport final , BRGM/RP-54976-FR, Octobre 2006 (1.1M PDF - in French)
> See also: Cogéma en Limousin (DRIRE Limousin - in French)
Cogéma/AREVA NC is applying for the authorisation to dump radioactive slurries from the treatment of mine water and contaminated sediments recovered from ponds in the former Bellezane open pit. The pit already contains uranium mill tailings originating from the former Bessines uranium mill. The tailings are covered with a rock cover. The slurries would be dumped on top of the rock cover.
From 27 Feb 2006 to 29 March 2006, a public inquiry was held on the proposal:
Enquête publique relative à la demande d'autorisation de stockage de boues de curages de stations de traitement des eaux d'exhaure minière et de sédiments de curage d'étangs dans la mine à ciel ouvert de Bellezane déposée par COGEMA sur les communes de Bessines sur Gartempe et Bersac sur Rivalier, Enquête publique du 27/02/2006 au 29/03/2006
By arrete DRCLE 2006–792 dated 4 May 2006, the prefect of Haute Vienne installed a "Commission locale d'information et de surveillance" (CLIS) for this project. The commission comprises representatives of the administration, AREVA, and environmental organizations.
(RAA du 23 mai 2006 p.36-37)
The independent radiation monitoring group CRIIRAD opposes the project:
CRIIRAD communique of 14 June 2006: (MS Word) · (PDF) (in French)
CRIIRAD technical note of 15 June 2006:
(MS Word) · (PDF) (in French)
A judicial inquiry was initiated against Cogéma for "pollution, abandonment and waste deposits" at several sites located close to old uranium mines in the Haute-Vienne department in central France.
The inquiry goes back to a complaint filed by the association Sources et Rivières du Limousin in March 1999. The complaint alleged Cogéma to have polluted several rivers which cross the old mining area. The five most
contaminated sites were close to the communes of Bessines, Compreignac,
Razès, Saint-Sylvestre and Saint-Pardoux.
According to the association France Nature , this pollution also affects the lake of Saint-Pardoux, a major recreational site in the area. In addition, the contaminated rivers feed one of the drinking water reserves of the town.
(AFP Sep. 7, 2002)
Cogema, however, maintains that elevated uranium concentrations found in the rivers are caused from natural sources. Any mine waters from the old mines are treated before release. (Cogéma Sep. 7, 2002)
On August 18, 2003, the examining magistrate decided to send Cogéma back before the Criminal Court of Limoges, although the public prosecutor wanted the case to be closed. The decision was, however, appealed by the public prosecutor's office.
(SRL/FNE Aug. 26, 2003, Le Figaro Aug. 27, 2003)
On March 25, 2004, a Limoges appeals court dismissed the public prosecutor's appeal and sent Cogéma back before the Criminal Court of Limoges. (Le Monde 25 Mar. 2004)
CRIIRAD communiqué March 26, 2004 MS-Word / PDF ·
Annexe (Repères chronologiques) MS-Word / PDF (in French)
On March 29, 2004, Cogéma filed an appeal against this decision.
> Download France Nature press communique: Apr. 1, 2004 (PDF - in French)
On Nov. 3, 2004, the Court of Cassation dismissed Cogéma's appeal, and Cogéma finally acknowleged that it has to appear in the Criminal Court.
(Cogéma Nov. 3, 2004)
Cogéma will first appear in the Criminal Court of Limoges on June 24, 2005.
(Figaro Apr. 8, 2005)
On Oct. 14, 2005, the Criminal Court of Limoges followed the public prosecutor and cleared Cogéma of the charge of polluting Haute-Vienne.
(La Croix Oct. 14, 2005)
On June 28, 2006, the Limoges Appeals Court approved the decision of the Criminal Court.
On May 31, 2001, the Le Bernardan uranium mine at Jouac (Haute Vienne) produced its last ore. It was the last active uranium mine in France. The uranium milling operations at the site will continue for a few months.
The mine had opened in 1978 as an open pit, and from 1984, operations continued as an underground operation. It has produced a total of 8000 tonnes of U.
> Aerial View: Google Maps
Areva to do limited cleanup near former St Pierre du Cantal uranium mine site
In a notice published in the local press on June 22, 2010, Areva announced the commencement of works to prevent radiological impacts in areas located near the former St Pierre du Cantal uranium mine site. The independent radiation laboratory CRIIRAD denounced these works as insufficient, however.
> View CRIIRAD release July 1, 2010 (in French)
Elevated radiation levels found around decommissioned St Pierre du Cantal uranium mine site
The independent laboratory CRIIRAD has identified elevated radiation levels at several public locations around the reclaimed site of the former open pit uranium mine and uranium mill at St Pierre du Cantal. Concentrations of radium-226 in soil on public grounds were found at up to 76,000 Bq/kg (that is up to 700 times the natural level in the area). There exist no use restrictions for these areas.
Concentrations of radon-222 surpassing the 1000 Bq/m3 action level were found in several buildings. In a public building, constructed on soils contaminated with radium-226, a concentration of radon-222 of 5000 Bq/m3 was found, while in neighbouring buildings, constructed on natural soils, concentrations were only 62 Bq/m3.
On the decommissioned site itself, residual contamination by yellow cake was found at the former mill site, with concentrations of uranium-238 of more than 3 million Bq/kg. On parts of the site, the gamma radiation and the release of radon-222 gas is 5 to 100 times background. The radioactive materials present on site lead to contamination of surface waters, with high concentrations of uranium-238 accumulating in stream sediments.
> View CRIIRAD release Nov. 29, 2007, and related documents (in French)
Elevated radiation levels found at decommissioned St Pierre du Cantal uranium mine site
The independent laboratory CRIIRAD has identified elevated radiation levels at the reclaimed site of the former open pit uranium mine and uranium mill at St Pierre du Cantal. External radiation dose rates reached up to 1.25 µSv/h, total alpha radiation in groundwater 27.2 Bq/L, and total beta radiation in groundwater 23.4 Bq/L - all in excess of the applicable regulatory limits. CRIIRAD, therefore, calls for a suspension of the currently ongoing procedure of license termination for the site.
(CRIIRAD Apr. 28, 2004)
> Download CRIIRAD communique Apr. 28, 2004 (PDF - in French)
CRIIRAD criticizes Areva's survey of cleanup of old uranium mines in the Puy-de-Dôme department
By decree dated April 13, 2010, the prefect of Puy-de-Dôme ordered Areva to prepare a report on the environmental situation at the former uranium mine and mill sites in the department. On June 27, 2012, the independent radiation laboratory CRIIRAD released a critical review of Areva's report, identifying many errors and omissions. CRIIRAD demands to perform site inspections to assess the actual situation at the sites. CRIIRAD in particular questions the situation at the site of Roffin/Rophin, comprising a deposit of 30,000 t of uranium mill tailings.
> View Mines d'uranium du Puy-de-Dôme (CRIIRAD - in French)
In the Puy-de-Dôme department in central France, there had been 11 small uranium mines in operation between 1948 and 1979. At Rophin (community of Lachaux) there exists a uranium mill tailings deposit containing 30,000 tonnes. During visits of all these sites, the environmental organization Puy-de-Dôme Nature Environnement (formerly AEDELEC) performed some radiation surveys. The dose rates observed reached up to 46 micro-Sieverts per hour, in particular in the surroundings of the Rophin site, while the average dose rate on normal ground is 0.1 micro-Sieverts per hour. The organization now demands from the authorities to perform a more thorough assessment of the radiation hazards at these sites and to clean up the contaminated areas found at these sites. (Action Environnement - Lettre d'information 2001, No. 3)
The organization has produced the following documentary (in French):
It can be obtained from: Puy-de-Dôme Nature Environnement , 19, rue Chabrol, 63200 Riom, France
- Les anciennes mines d'uranium dans le Puy-de-Dôme, Puy-de-Dôme Nature Environnement, Riom, 2001
Old uranium mill of Le Bouchet being dismantled
The old uranium mill and uranium processing facility of Le Bouchet (Essonne) near Paris, France, will be decommissioned within 18 months starting Nov. 5, 2001. The mill processed approx. 9500 tonnes of high grade uranium ores between 1946 and 1958, before uranium mills were in operation near the uranium mines. A first decontamination took place in 1971. The uranium mill tailings resulting from the operation were transferred to the tailings deposit of Lavaugrasse near Bessines.
The plant also comprises a thorium processing facility, which, between 1957 and 1971, processed 5400 tonnes of thorium concentrates originating from Madagascar. This resulted in the production of 2892 tonnes of thorium and 935 tonnes of uranium.
(Le Parisien, Oct. 29, 2001; Davis 1997)
> Aerial View: Google Maps
At a meeting on July 11, 2001, the local government decided to invest 5.5 million francs (US$ 700,000) on studies about the viability of a project of car racing tracks on the former site of COGEMA at Lodève (Hérault). This sum is to be equally matched by funds raised by the French motor sport association.
On the site there are 4.1 million tonnes of uranium mill tailings.
(Midi Libre July 12, 2001)
> Aerial View: Google Maps
Cleanup at former St-Priest-la-Prugne uranium mine still uncomplete (Loire, France)
On July 2, 2008, the independent radiation monitoring group CRIIRAD released the results of a monitoring campaign performed in 2006-2007. According to CRIIRAD, the radiation monitoring conducted and the access restrictions to contaminated properties provided by Areva are inadequate; there still exist several contaminated properties that have never been cleaned up; residual contamination can still be found on properties that have been cleaned up by Areva; the treatment of the mine water before release is inadequate; and, questions remain on the long-term safety of the 1.3 million t of tailings deposited on site, which are still stored in a dam and covered by nothing than water.
> View details (CRIIRAD, in French)
Authorities trying to locate disseminated material from former St-Priest-la-Prugne uranium mine (Loire, France)
4200 households in the Bois Noir area in the Allier and Loire departments in central France have received a questionnaire asking questions such as: "Do you own minerals from the uranium mine?", "Do you know ways, foundations of buildings, or terrain where material from the mine has been used?", "Is your home concerned?"
With this operation, authorities are trying to get hold of radioactive material that has been extracted from the former St-Priest-la-Prugne uranium mine. The mine had been in operation from 1960 to 1980, and since then material from the mine had been disseminated in the neighbouring area - with the consent of the then site owner (CEA and COGEMA). In Spring 2003, Cogema had to remove 8000 cubic meters of contaminated material, which had been used for the foundations of a sawmill.
The current recovery operation is the result of an eight-year struggle of the Collectif des Bois Noirs raising the awareness on the hazards from the old uranium mine.
(Le Figaro Feb. 4, 2004)
> Download Information notice with questionnaire ·
Questionnaire only (PDF, DRIRE Rhône-Alpes, in French)
> Download Summary of radioecological studies performed on the site (24 Oct. 2003) (PDF, DRIRE Rhône-Alpes, in French)
In a Feb. 6, 2004, news release, COGEMA maintains that the material released to residents between 1960 and 1980 was waste rock with only slightly elevated radiation levels - below standards applicable at that time.
Proposal for relocation of St-Priest-la-Prugne Uranium Mill Tailings (Loire, France)
The French nuclear fuel company COGEMA
plans to relocate the tailings of its former uranium mill at
Saint-Priest-la-Prugne (Dept. Loire, France) to the nearby
former open pit.
The existing tailings dam covers an area of 20 hectares and
holds 1.3 million tonnes of uranium mill tailings, containing
286 tonnes of uranium and 74.6 TBq of radium-226. The tailings
are covered with water and are stored behind a dam of 42 meters
height. The dam crosses the valley of the Besbre river, which
runs now through a diversion channel.
The open pit has a capacity of only 300,000 cubic meters, and
must therefore be enlarged for the relocation project. The whole
relocation process will take 7 to 8 years.
A report, prepared in 1993 for the Ministry of Environment, had
found that the present tailings dam does not meet the criteria
for a safe long-term disposal of the tailings.
This would be the first relocation of an existing uranium mill
tailings pile for permanent disposal in Europe. Similar
relocation projects were realized at several sites in the United
The local environmental group Collectif Bois Noirs is
raising a number of concerns about the environmental impacts of
the relocation project:
- the anticipated increase of radon releases during the
relocation work, due to the removal of the water cover,
- the anticipated dust releases during the transport of the
- the necessity to construct a new dam, since the open pit is
to small to receive all of the material,
- the instability of the underground of the proposed disposal
site due to extensive cavities of the former underground mine
beneath the site,
- the questionable suitability of the proposed waste rock
cover over the tailings for radon release mitigation,
- the unknown pathways of seepage after percolation of the
- among others.
INFO URANIUM No.82, Sept.-Oct.1996, p.12
La Gazette Nucléaire, No. 153/154, Décembre 1996,
Collectif Bois Noirs: Quel avenir pour les Bois Noirs?,
Septembre 1996, 19 p.
Elevated radiation levels found at former Rosglas uranium mine site
The Rosglas uranium mine in Bretagne was in operation from 1964 to 1975. It produced a total of 115 t of uranium from open pit and underground mining.
Monitoring of external radiation undertaken in April and May 2008 under surveillance of the independent laboratory CRIIRAD showed elevated external radiation levels at various locations, in particular at waste rock deposits.
> Download: Analyses radiologiques de solides dans le secteur de lancienne mine duranium de Rosglas (Morbihan), Note CRIIRAD N°08-119, 20 Juillet 2008 (1M PDF - in French)
Inventory of uranium mine waste rock in Pays-de-la-Loire region
Uranium mine waste rock found on camping ground leads to considerable gamma dose rates:
Areva's stocktaking of the whereabouts of waste rock from the former uranium mines in the Pays-de-la-Loire region has shown gamma dose rates up to more than 20 times background on the Parc-du-Guibel camping ground in the community of Piriac-sur-Mer (Loire Atlantique). While the background is 70 nSv/h, the dose rate on the camping ground showed an average of 430 nSv/h, with a maximum of 1490 nSv/h. For an occupancy of 2000 hours per year, Areva determines an annual dose of 0.83 mSv/a for the average and of 3.37 mSv/a for the maximum spot. The dose rates thus exceed the 0.6 mSv/a limit used for the consideration of remedial action.
On July 9, 2014, the independent radiation laboratory CRIIRAD alerted the prefect of the Loire-Atlantique department and the regional health authority to the lack of remedial action. CRIIRAD further criticizes the missing consideration of beta radiation and the missing measurements for gamma radiation directly on the ground, which might be 30 times or more higher than those actually performed at 1 metre above ground.
> View/Download: waste rock inventory results (DREAL - in French)
> View CRIIRAD information (in French)
Solar park on site of former l'Écarpière uranium mill
Construction work began in April on a 3.7 MW solar park at the site of the former l'Écarpière uranium mill at Gétigné, near Nantes in western France. 30,000 solar modules are being installed on an area of 12 hectares on a plateau. The plant is scheduled to be fully operational in summer 2014.
(juwi/pv magazine June 5, 2014)